Kit Café du Cycliste, a bikepacking frame bag, a 3-in-1 bike wash and a sporty fall from grace

The news train thundered through BikeRadar Central this week and even the pickiest reader will have found something to sate their appetite in the well-stocked dining car.

To kick things off, we saw Specialized release two new mountain bike helmets, both of which earned five stars in Virginia Tech’s influential Helmet Safety Rating test.

We then saw a more affordable Tern electric cargo bike land. With fuel prices soaring, could the launch of these bikes see many adopting them for urban cargo hauling tasks at a faster rate than before? Öhlins has also launched a new short-travel fork.

This week’s news roundup concludes with the launch of Orbea’s Terra Hydro alloy gravel bikes. We love the look of the premium yellow build and hope to have a bike to test soon.

If that’s not enough for you, this week’s edition of First Look Friday is packed with the best fresh tech products to land at BikeRadar HQ.

Café du Cycliste spring collection

The Alexia is intended as a three-season vest.

Our French friends at Café du Cycliste kindly sent me some cycling couture from the brand’s Côte d’Azur headquarters – a padded gilet, thermal bib shorts and toasty gloves.

The French brand describes the Alexia as a packable three-season insulated vest.

Seems fair because summer is the only time of year I can’t see myself using it.

Insulation comes from down padding that is snug across the chest and back. Size medium is a slim fit for me without stopping me from wearing a long sleeve base layer and jersey underneath.

According to Café du Cycliste, the outer shell and lining of the Alexia are made from water-resistant recycled fabric.

Despite its warmth, it packs easily into a jersey pocket. The large zipped back pocket is a feature that the best cycling vests could use.

First look at the Cafe du Cycliste Friday 2022-1 cycling kit

The darts of the Adele shorts reach the knee, even on Jack’s long legs.

I also received the equally stylish Adèle thermal bib shorts, in navy blue.

As a long-limbed rider, I appreciate how the darts of the shorts reach my knee, rather than mid-thigh, even in the small size.

They have plenty of reflective patches and a comfortable chamois with well-placed padding.

The material feels warm but not too thick, and Café du Cycliste says the mesh bib panel provides ventilation.

First look at the Cafe du Cycliste Friday 2022-4 cycling kit

Reflective backing and windproof panels on Audax gloves.

Third, Audax cycling gloves have reflective backs, which should catch the car lights when you indicate.

According to Café du Cycliste, they have a fleece lining and windproof panels, while remaining breathable.

They are rather bulky for road/gravel gloves, but don’t feel too restrictive.

  • Alexia vest £176 / $230 / AU$306 / €180
  • Adele bib shorts £191 / $250 / AU$332 / €195
  • Audax gloves £73 / $95 / AU$128 / €75

Works Wizard Framebagracadabra

Works Wizard Framebagracadabra

The Framebagracadabra will light up your bikepacking adventures with its vibrant rust orange color.

London-based bike bag specialist Wizard Works sent me one of their new bikepacking frame bags in the Rust orange colourway.

Available in small (1.9l), regular (2.5l) and large (3.5l), the Framebagracadabra is much easier to set up than to type.

Use the guide on the brand’s website to find the right frame size for your bike – a wide fits my XL Canyon Grail Al 7.0 perfectly.

You weave the bungee cord around your top tube instead of relying on straps. On other frame bags I have found that they can fail when they get wet and muddy.

However, Wizard Works provides heavy-duty Velcro loops for added security, which I attached to the downtube.

Works Wizard Framebagracadabra

The Italian-made zipper should keep the main compartment roomy and the two mesh pockets dry.

The bag’s side zipper is made in Italy, and Wizard Works says its chunky gnashers are made from recycled plastic. I can’t vouch for its longevity yet, but it seems sturdy. The zippered sleeve should prevent water from entering.

Inside the Framebagracadabra there is a fairly deep main compartment and two mesh pockets to separate tools and spare parts from snacks, for example.

  • Wizard Works Framebagracadabra (large size) £99 / €119.60

Whip Wash Bike Wash

Whip Wash Bike Wash

Why buy three separate bike cleaning products when there’s Whip Wash?

Whip Wash is a new UK-based bike wash brand with a solution for endlessly accumulating different products to clean every bike component.

The company says its 3-in-1 formula means you no longer need to spend your hard-earned money on more than one product to clean chains, frames and brakes. Besides money, it could save shed space and time.

The one liter bottle has a spray nozzle and the solution foams extremely well right out of the bottle without adding any water.

The Whip Wash solution also seems to lather up without you having to squirt large amounts, which means you should get a lot of use out of it.

A one liter bottle costs £8.95, five liters £19.95 and 500ml £4.95.

Whip Wash also sells 500ml recyclable refill sachets, 5 liter containers, a sleek and eco-friendly metal spray bottle it calls “Bottle For Life” and a “snow foam lance” on its website.

God Is Dead: The rise and fall of Frank Vandenbroucke, cycling’s great wasted talent

God Is Dead: The rise and fall of Frank Vandenbroucke, cycling's great wasted talent

Andy McGrath’s biography offers a compelling and uplifting account of the life of Frank Vandenbroucke.

The publication of this biography of Frank Vandenbroucke by the award-winning author and former Wheeler editor Andy McGrath coincides with the start of the Spring Classics, where the Belgian spectacularly won the 1999 Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Vandenbroucke’s jaw-dropping performance at La Doyenne, including an infamous big-ring attack on the legendary La Redoute climb, seemed to herald the first of many victories for the insurance prodigy at the Monument.

But as McGrath recounts with the insight of family members, friends and teammates, it was the pinnacle of Vandenbroucke’s life and career.

god is dead is the story of Vandenbroucke’s tragic and mysterious end in a Senegalese hotel room just 10 years later.

McGrath details how drugs, both performance-enhancing and recreational, alcohol, spats, the scorching gaze of the media and the pilot’s self-destructive side all played their part.

It strikes me as a cautionary tale at a time when riders turned professional much earlier than Vandenbroucke at the precocious age of 19.

I can’t wait to read the rest of this poignant but heartbreaking story.

Wiley C. Thompson